New partnership on autonomous vessels

All smiles as partners seal a deal for autonomous maritime vehicle research and development. Standing (L-R) Mr Loïg Chesnais-Girard, President, Regional Council of Brittany; the Hon. Steven Marshall, Premier of South Australia. Seated (L-R) Mr Pascal Pinot, Director, ENSTA Bretagne; Mr Hervé Guillou, Chairman and CEO of Naval Group; Professor Colin Stirling, President and Vice-Chancellor of Flinders University.

Research in the fast emerging field of autonomous maritime vehicles will be significantly boosted under a new international collaboration between Australian and French academic institutions and industry.

A Memorandum of Understanding covering research, development and education has been reached between leading research institutions Flinders University in Australia and French Graduate School of Engineering ENSTA Bretagne, with global shipbuilder Naval Group.

The agreement was signed by the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Naval Group, Mr Hervé Guillou, Director of ENSTA Bretagne, Mr Pascal Pinot and President and Vice-Chancellor of Flinders University Professor Colin Stirling at a ceremony attended by the Premier of South Australia, Steven Marshall MP and President, Regional Council of Brittany, Mr Loïg Chesnais-Girard.

Autonomous maritime vehicle research is a key strength at both Flinders and ENSTA Bretagne, and is an increasingly important area for defence and civilian applications.

Researchers at Flinders have established a close research relationship with ENSTA Bretagne and the institutions are pleased to be working collaboratively with Naval Group in a move that will further enhance the alliance between France and Australia.

Students from Flinders and ENSTA Bretagne will also benefit from the agreement thanks to a focus on internships and work experience programs for students across both countries. The collaboration opens the pathway for Flinders students to undertake internships in France as well as French students to spend time in Flinders research laboratories.

Flinders University Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling says “I am delighted that Flinders University continues to strengthen its relationship with ENSTA Bretagne and Naval Group in the vital area of autonomous systems and maritime vehicle research.”

“This relationship will enable our students to benefit from exchange opportunities that will expose them to some of the most advanced research in this area and to create opportunities that will strengthen the relationship between South Australia and the Brittany region of France.”

Strengthening ties between France and South Australia: Naval Group chief Mr Hervé Guillou, SA Premier Steven Marshall and Flinders VC Professor Colin Stirling.

ENSTA Bretagne’s Director, Pascal Pinot says “There is growing global interest in the emerging field of autonomous marine vehicles and we are pleased to be further building our relationship with Flinders University and Naval Group as a historic partner in developing these exciting technologies.”

“The exchange of research knowledge is a vital element in advancing the evolution and the application of autonomous technologies.”

“France and Australia are modern, progressive and ambitious nations and agreements such as this serve to further strengthen our country-to-country relationship.”

Naval Group’s Chief Technical Officer and Innovation Director Eric Papin says “Flinders University and ENSTA Bretagne are partners of choice when it comes to autonomous systems, which are one of the major challenges of future naval systems.”

“Naval Group is proud to be part of this tripartite effort covering research, development and education; it will allow our team to progress towards smarter naval products.”

The Vice-Chancellor (left) and Pro Vice-Chancellor International Sebastian Raneskold (second right) networking at the MoU signing event

In July 2018, Flinders became the first research institution outside of France to be invited to join CELADON.

CELADON is an association of leading industry and academic institutions (including ENSTA Bretagne) that operates land-based and marine facilities adjacent to the French Naval Academy in Brest, France.

As part of its membership Flinders researchers and students will have the opportunity to undertake sea trials with unique infrastructure in the area of autonomous surface and underwater vehicles, and help develop future marine technologies in research projects with other CELADON members.

The signing of the Autonomous Maritime Vehicle MoU with Naval Group and ENSTA Bretagne opens up further opportunities to enhance collaboration with the Brittany region.

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